Saturday, February 1, 2014

Basic Soap Recipe

If you've been following this blog, you know that on Tuesday, I posted about How and Why you should make your own soap.  Today, I'm going to follow up with my favorite basic soap recipe.

This recipe provides a pretty good amount of lather (from the castor oil), a nice cleanse (from the olive oil), and a bit of moisture so your hands aren't left crusty (from the coconut oil).  This is a hot-process soap.


  • 6 ounces of water
  • 2.75 ounces of lye
  • 12.5 ounces of olive oil
  • 6.25 ounces of coconut oil
  • 1.125 ounces of castor oil
  • Essential Oils (as desired)
  • Colorants (as desired)

You'll also need some supplies:

  • Hand blender
  • Crock pot (about a quart)
  • a plastic shopping bag or other liner
  • a sturdy box (I used an old cardboard box from those 8-set yoplait yougurts)
  • a scale (to get precise measurements)
  • a soap-only spoon
  • a heat-resistant glass container
So, now that you know what you need, here's the process:

  1. Measure out your oils and melt them together in the crockpot.
  2. Measure out your lye and water.  Make sure the water is cold and, very slowly and with caution, add the lye to the water bit by bit.  The lye will cause a heat reaction, so this should be a carefully controlled addition.
  3. At this point, I add different colorants to each batch.  This is completely optional, but always use specific soap dyes for this (they're not that expensive).  If you choose to use colorants, read the label to see if they are to be added to the water (ie the lye solution) or the oils (what's cooking in the crockpot).  In fact, some are best to be added at the end.  Read up on your particular colorant.
  4. When the oils and the lye solution are about the same temperature, slowly pour the lye solution into the oils.  At this point, any plastic ware or wood you are using (such as a spoon) should never again be used for food.  The lye will leave traces in wood and plastic.  Stainless steel, glass, and ceramic are safe.
  5. Use the hand blender to blend the mixture to trace.  Basically, it should be the consistency of pancake batter.  When you lift the blender out of the mixture, it should leave convex trails of mixture along the top.  For this recipe, it should take 10 minutes or more.
  6. Then, you put the lid on and just let it cook.  With my crockpot, this recipe takes about an hour and a half.  You should see the entire mixture crawl up the edges and fold over into the middle.  There will be a pool of glycerin in the middle.  You can either collect this or stir it back in.  Everything should have turned whiteish foamy, and then eventually go back to being transparent at least in some places.
  7. If you're adding essential oils, add them at this time and stir them in well.
  8. Pour the mixture into a plastic bag and lay it inside the box you are using as a mold.  Let it harden for at least 24 hours, then remove it, peel off the plastic bag, and cut it into bars.
Here are a few bars that I have made recently.  Each color signifies a different combination of essential oils.